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Moana fic: Two of Us (1/1)

December 11th, 2017 (09:08 pm)

feeling: nauseated

Title: Two of Us

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

A/N: Fills my loss of identity square for hc_bingo. Again, I have no explanation for why I’m writing fic about an animated pig. But there you go. Very unbeta’ed, set post movie.

Summary: Moana returns to her island -- and to her pig. Things have changed more than she expected.


To say that her homecoming was exhilarating would be an understatement.

She’d spent mere weeks at sea, but in her absence, so much -- everything, in some ways -- had changed. Walking around her familiar village, seeing the people she’d known her entire life -- she had to wonder if it wasn’t her that was different.

All the same, it was good to be home.

She turned toward the ocean, smiling.

It would be good to go out again, too.

“We could do it together,” she explained wistfully to her parents over dinner that night. “Take the boats out of storage, repair them. Organize a scouting party from the village and just...go for awhile.”

Her father snorted softly in amusement. “You just got back,” he quipped. “And your eyes are already back out there.”

She looked at them brightly. “But don’t you see?” she asked. “There’s no conflict anymore. It’s not an either-or, for any of us. Me and you and Mom--”

Her mother smiled at her fondly.

“And Pua!” she said, pointing across the room where her pet pig was lounging lazily after his own meal. “Pua could come, too!”

The pig perked up, ears up. He cocked his head.

Moana chuckled. “Come on,” she said, turning back to her dad. She leaned toward him knowingly. “I know it calls to you, just like it does to me. We can find that together.”

“She makes a convincing point,” her mother said, elbowing her dad gently.

Her father nodded, letting a long, contented sigh. “I raised you to lead our people,” he said. “Which means it’s up to me to follow, every now and then.”

Moana beamed, throwing her arms around her dad. “Thank you!” she exclaimed. “It’s going to be great! You’ll see!”

Her dad shook his head with a laugh. “I’m sure I won’t have a choice.”

“And neither of you have a choice about eating dinner,” she chided. “All this saving the world, I want you two to have your energy.”

Moana took an eager bite, glancing across the room to lock eyes with Pua for confirmation.

Her little pig was gone, however. His food bowl was only half empty.

“So tell me the truth,” her father interjected, distracting her from her thoughts. “Was Maui really as mighty as they say he is?”

That was a story to tell. And there was another story, and another. She talked until the fire burned down and the night waned.

It turned out that a matter of weeks could be a lifetime.


When she finally got to bed, she was more tired than she realized. Maybe it was like Maui said; a real wayfinder never slept. And, come to think of it, Moana wasn’t sure she’d actually slept since that first night with Maui on the canoe. She was exhausted.

And for as much as she loved sleeping out under the open stars, there was something nice about sleeping on a familiar bed once again. Warm with her people around her.

She smiled at the sight of Pua, curled up on her pillow.

Gently, she picked him up. Intending to move him, she was careful, but he stirred anyway. He blinked lazily a few times, then opened his eyes eagerly at the sight of her. She could feel his tail wiggling as she held him, and she stroked his head while smiling. “Hey, Pua,” she said. “You snuck off at dinner.”

He grunted softly, expressing malcontent.

“Okay, okay,” she said, rolling her eyes. “I guess technically I did take off first when I went on my journey.”

He huffed, mollified.

“It was amazing, though,” she mused to him, snuggling him closer. “There’s so much I want to tell you, and I’m better at it now. I mean, I crashed, like, once or twice, but I’ve learned so much.”

Pua knitted his brows skeptically. He clearly remembered their shared sailing incident. She’d never made it past the reef on that one -- and Pua had almost paid the price for her inexperience.

She scratched behind his ear. “And I’m going to tell you all about it, every part,” she said. “The ocean, and finding Maui, and the coconut pirates and Tamotoa--”

In her arms, he perked up.

Yawning, she stretched a little. Settling him down next to her, she curled her body around his. He was warm next to her, and she could feel his little heart pounding like a soothing lullaby. “We’ll talk, just the two of us,” she said, feeling drowsy now.

He leaned up, licking her face.

She smiled, petting him absently as her eyes started to close. “Just the two of us,” she mumbled, voice softer still as she fell asleep, Pua tucked by her side.


Naturally, she dreamed of the sea.

Those dreams used to make her feel wistful.

That morning, though, she woke up smiling.

Looking out across the ocean, she knew it wasn’t a dream anymore.

With a decisive stretch, she turned back around. “Well,” she started saying to Pua. “We have a lot to do--”

She stopped short.

Her bed was empty.

Pua’s spot was vacant.

She frowned, looking in the nooks of the room. “Pua?” she asked. She stepped outside to the patio, where Pua sometimes took up residence to stare happily at the waves. “Pua?”

Pua, however, wasn’t there either.

“Huh,” she said, hands on her hips. “Where is that pig?”


It was true, she had work to do. She was the chief’s daughter, and her little adventure hadn’t made her forget that part of herself. She was there to serve her people.

And, well, her pig.

Pua was hers just as much as any of the other villagers. In fact, he was more her responsibility than most of the people on this island. She’d been the one to take him in; she’d been the one to save him when he was the runt of the litter. She had given him his name, which meant she had given him his place on this island.

On an island like Motonui, that mattered.

She’d never wavered from that responsibility. Every day since she’d met that little pig -- well, she stopped herself. Every day but the last few weeks.

She started her search in their familiar places. At the beach, she looked for his trail, and she checked for his favorite perch on the volcanic rock. She searched all along the cove, where Pua sometimes played in the shallows or made a mess of himself in the underbrush of the treeline.

Then she marched up the bluffs, going to their favorite lookout spot. When he was still nowhere to be found, she followed their favorite shortcut through the trees, and she looked for him with the coconut harvest, where he often begged for bites from the kindly workers.

No Pua.

He wasn’t with the farmers or the basket weavers or even the dancers. He wasn’t in the village hall or poking his nose in the food stores. She was all but ready to give up, when she heard a familiar snort.

Curious, she turned, trying to hone in on the noise. She was surprised to find that it was coming from farther inland, past the village and into the dense middle where the newest coconut groves were still taking root. She looked carefully, but saw no sign. She was about to give up when she heard the snorting again, and she crept up the ledge to one of the caves on the interior wall of the mountain.

And there, in the damp and dark, was Pua. He was half-tucked into a batch of palm fronds -- clearly his attempt to make a bed for himself. There was a pitiful selection of food, including a half-eaten banana and a coconut husk.

“Pua?” she asked, worried. She stepped forward. “Pua, what are you doing here?”

He startled, scrambling away from his bed in a hurry. He seemed flustered, quickly trying to act nonchalant.

“Have you been sleeping here?” she asked.

He half shrugged, but didn’t deny it.

“Pua!” she said, reaching for him.

He trotted forward reluctantly.

“You know Mom and Dad wouldn’t have minded if you stayed at home without me,” she said.

Stiffly, he didn’t respond to her comfort.

She smoothed her hand down his back. “It’s our room,” she reminded him. “And you’re as much a part of the family as any of us.”

His little eyes were baleful.

Scooping up, she kissed him. “Come on,” she said. “I know what will cheer you up?”

He tipped his head back to look at her as she stood with him in her arms.

“Breakfast,” she said.

His ears stood up, and she could feel his tail waggle.

She beamed at him. “Just the two of us.”

This time, he beamed back just like the day they first met and she gave him his name.

The morning, Moana decided, was definitely looking up.


At breakfast, Pua was back to his old tricks, which was very reassuring to see. It wasn’t that Moana wanted everything to go back the way it had been before she left -- she couldn’t even begin to imagine settling now -- but there were some aspects of the predictability of island life she’d missed.

Pua’s friendly antics had been one.

The food selection was another.

She’s been as prepared as possible, but her rations had all started to taste like salt by the end of her journey. Not to mention, there are only so many meals in a row you can rely on raw bananas before you crave something cooked.

Accordingly, she ate happily and fully that morning, going back for seconds. Pua raided her plate both times, helping himself to whatever he wanted. He then proceeded to raid the rest of the plates in the room, and blinked his eyes up hopefully for extra scraps.

Her mother chided him. “If you weren’t a pig already, I’d have to reprimand you,” she said. She shook her head as Pua wagged his tail at her. With a roll of her eyes, she handed him another piece of coconut. “I haven’t seen him eat this well since you left.”

Moana looked up. “Did he feel well?”

Pua was munching happily, making short work of his scraps.

“We took care of him, just like you wanted,” her mother replied. She shrugged. “But you could tell. He missed you.”

Pua looked up, as if he knew they were talking about him. He grinned, toddling over to her.

She rubbed between his ears. “Well, we’ll make up for that,” she said, cooing it a little. “Won’t we?”

With an enthusiastic grunt, Pua nodded. He pranced for a second, almost stepping on Moana’s food basket.

She rescued it with a giggle, shaking her head. “I missed you, too,” she said, handing the last of the scraps out of her bowl for the pig.


Looking up, she saw her father’s figure framed in the doorway.


He held up his hand, refusing the food basket offered by Moana’a mother. “I know you must be tired from your trip--”

“Exhausted!” she exclaimed. “Did you know that wayfinders don’t even get to sleep?”

Her father nodded his head patiently. “That is why I know you must crave rest,” he continued. “But I have to ask, for the sake of the village--”

“Sure, Dad,” she said, getting to her feet. “Everything I did -- I did for the village.”

“I know that,” he said, smiling gently. “Which is why I hate to ask for more.”

“Daughter of the village chief,” she quipped. “It’s more than kissing babies.”

“But no more than council meetings, I’m afraid,” he said, sympathetically. “The council wants a report on your adventures.”

“The council?” she asked.

“The whole island,” her father corrected himself sheepishly. “Besides, I thought it might be a good opportunity.”

At this, she perked up. “A good opportunity for what?” Politics had never been her favorite, and she had no desire to have her people narrate her victories into song. Her dad knew that. Which meant…

His smile widened imperceptibly. “A good opportunity to tell the people about our plans to fix that boats, set them to the water and revive our exploring past.”

Uncontrollably, she clapped her hands with a yelp. Before her father could tell her to settle down, she was already out the door.


Several hours later, Moana had told her story.

Multiple times

With excessive detail.

And as little embellishment as possible.

It wasn’t easy, though. Not when all the questions they asked her were for better, greater, more powerful things. The villagers, they hung on every word. They were awed of her description of Maui, and they trembled when she ventured into the Realm of Monsters. They were jubilant with her as she figured out Te Ka’s identity and restored Te Fiti to her glory.

Moana was grinning by the time she was done.

Honestly, maybe she was ready to have a few of her exploits commemorated in song. That might make them shorter, at any rate!

“That story,” she continued, speaking to an enthralled crowd as the day waned toward noon. “Is behind me now.”

She glanced her father. He took her mother’s hand and nodded at her in approval.

Moana turned, beaming to her people. “Now, I ask you, look with me to the future,” she said. “Not just of this adventure, but of our people’s lineage. We are descended from voyagers. We can remember that past and we can honor it.”

There was a tittering over the people, and a long silence fell.

“And to do that,” she announced grandly. “We must take to the sea again.”

The people gasped, whispering among themselves. She turned proudly to the council.

“Follow me,” she said, gesturing to the door. “And I can show you our future.”


The cave was still partially hidden, and with the help of the young men, the entrance was fully cleared. She pushed back the vines, taking the first step inside.

She’d been here before, of course. Twice, in fact. In many ways, the cave had lost some of its mythic qualities now that she’d learned its secrets.

That didn’t make the moment any less momentous.

Because she didn’t enter alone this time. She didn’t come to learn about the past.

She entered to move forward.

To move her people forward.

As the villagers crowded inside, she weaved her way through the remainder of the fleet. Eagerly, she climbed aboard the largest one, picking up the mallet to bang the drum again.

She could feel it, reverberating through her.

And into every person there.

She looked over them, her people. Her father and mother. The children she’d grown up with; the elders she’d respected. She saw the young and old, the newborn babies and the grandparents who could hardly walk.

They were all there.

Her village.

Her people.

Even Heihei, she thought with a smile, watching as the chicken pecked pointlessly at one of the boats.

Everyone except…

Her gaze halted for a moment, when she realized who was missing. She scoured the crowd, looking for any sign.

It was useless, though.

Everyone was there.

Except Pua.


Her intention had been to make the announcement and let it percolate for several days. That was how decisions were usually made in the village. Her father made announcement and gave the people time to respond. That was the prudent way to make sure that all points of view were taken into consideration, and it allowed everyone to understand the decisions before they were final.

Judicious, her father had called it.

See, she’d been listening.

To most of it.

The people, though, had no intention of letting this percolate.

Sure, she was suggesting a massive change to their lifestyle and economy. It would affect the village dynamic and possible bring them into contact with other people. It would take time and effort, and was not without its risks.

But she had shown them their destiny.

She was surprised by just how vigorously they accepted it.

Now, the questions were not about Maui and Te Fiti. They were about how to repair a sail and proper sailing beyond the reef. She answered questions about navigation and wayfinding, and she began to show them the basic skills needed to survive on the water.

When her father dismissed the crowd for an evening meal, Moana realized just how much time had passed. Her mother sidled close to her, nodding politely as the villagers began to file out of the cave once more

“Looks like you made an impression,” her mother murmured under her breath.

“Yeah,” she said, still a little shocked. “I guess I did.”

Her mother nudged her. “I guess you weren’t the only one who’s been pining to go beyond the reef.”

Moana nudged her mother back. “Just the first one to do it.”

“Your father is right,” her mother said. “This does suit you.”

“It suits us all,” her father interjected, coming up behind them. “But there is much work that must be done.”

“Oh yeah,” Moana said. “But, I was hoping--”

Her father looked at her down his nose.

“I just want to find Pua,” she said, gesturing at the retreating crowd. “Everyone was here today but him. I’m worried about him.”

Her father sighed. “You are important to that pig,” he said. “That little thing wouldn’t even take from its mother, but there you came, and gave it what it needed.”

“He just needed some extra attention,” Moana said.

“He just needed you,” her father said. “But so do the rest of us. So, go, find Pua. And then rejoin the tribe for the evening celebrations.”

“Celebrations?” she asked, suddenly curious again.

“My daughter returned from her voyage, tamed Maui and restored the heart of Te Fiti,” her father said, sticking out his chest proudly. “Of course I’m going to celebrate.”


It wasn’t like they needed a reason to celebrate most of the time on Motonui. They were a small village with a big history. They had celebrations for their ancestors, for their gods, for each other. Pretty much any reason at all.

That didn’t mean that Moana still didn’t love a party.

Because she did.

But, priorities.

Of all the times to be distracted, this wasn’t it.

She’d given her attention to her people.

Now she had to attend to her pig.

Determined, she set off for home, making a mental list of the things she wanted to talk to Pua about. She thought about how much fun they could have, dancing together at the party. She’d leave out extra fruit around the elders, just so he could terrorize them for a little bit with his cuteness.

That was a win for everyone.

“Pua!” she said decisively as she entered the hut. “I’ve got this great--”

She stopped, the words dying in her throat. Because Pua was there -- thank goodness -- but he was already curled up on Moana’s bed, half tucked beneath her blanket and nose buried in straw. Snuggled there, he was snoring softly, apparently oblivious to Moana’s bold entrance.

“Aw,” she said, her voice dropping. She crossed the floor, kneeling next to him. “Asleep already?”

She stroked him softly. He stirred a little, but settled back into sleep.

“But you’re going to miss the party,” Moana whispered with a fond smile.

Smiling, she ducked down to kiss him on the top of his head.

“It’s okay,” she told him. It was good to see him happy and safe. That was all she’d ever wanted for him, ever since she first saved his life. “I’ll catch you up on the latest tomorrow!”


Tomorrow, as it turned out, came a little later than she’d intended.

She knew her party liked to celebrate.

But saving the island? Reminding them of their past? Restoring their destiny?

Moana didn’t sleep until morning, when she tumbled into bed next to Pua. Through bleary eyes, she saw him wake up. Ears perking up, he licked her, his tongue tickling her nose and cheeks.

Yawning noisily, she patted him. “I know, I know,” she mumbled. “I just need a few more minutes, okay?”


A few minutes.

A few hours.

To Moana’s credit, she was up at noon. Everyone else was still in bed, and the village was unusually silent for the midday. They all needed the rest.

She looked at the vacant spot on the bed next to her.

Everyone but Pua.

After her morning duties, she set off to find him. There was still no sign of him at the water or in the fields. When she found him in his cave, she put her hands on her hips.


He looked disconcerted.

“What are you doing here?”

His brow furrowed as he tilted his head.

“I know I was back late,” she said apologetically. “Things are going to get back to normal. I promise.”

He looked dubious.

She smiled. “Trust me,” she said, nodding her head toward the cave’s entrance. “Now let’s go see if we can rustle up something more to eat!”

Pua had his doubts, but not about food.

Moana smiled to herself.

At least that much hadn’t changed.


Pua’s appetite was the same, but that was about the only thing.

In fact, so many things were different that Moana scarcely had time to acknowledge them for the frenetic pace of life back on Motonui. In addition to the normal demands of running the village, now she was in charge of boat restoration and wayfinding instruction. Her days were fuller than they’d ever been, and better, too.

Now, when she looked at the horizon, she didn’t have to pine.

All she had to do was wait.


The more Moana thought about it -- which wasn’t as much as she should have -- Pua’s appetite had changed. He still came to mealtimes, but he wasn’t seeking out food the way he used to. One day, while she was organizing supplies to complete another round of repairs, she saw Pua sitting idly by the bowl of food she’d plopped down for him at lunch.

She’d meant to eat with him, but there hadn’t been time. There was never time.

But she never neglected Pua; she fed him regularly and made sure he had extra snacks.

None of which he seemed to care about.

To make matters worse, Heihei came up and started to help himself. Not that that was unusual, but Pua’s reaction -- well, it gave her pause.

The pig said nothing, did nothing, barely looked twice while the chicken had his fill.

Concerned, she was about to go over to him and ask if everything was okay.

Before she took a step, her father’s broad shadow stopped her.

“Moana,” he said. “I need to talk to you.”

She glanced toward Pua, where the little pig had turned and headed back toward home. “Now?” she asked. “I just--”

“Now,” her father said, his voice firm.

She looked up at him, a pang of anxiety going through her.

But then his face brightened. “I think I have something you want to hear.”


Moana followed her father into the town hall. It was quiet and empty at this time of day, and Moana didn’t waste any time.

“So?” she asked, trying not to sound to eager. “What is it?”

Her father drew a long, even breath. “I know the preparations are great,” he began. “And I know that there are many things we’re unprepared to face.”

“Well, sure,” Moana said. “But you can’t go expecting everything to be perfect. It’s a process; an adventure!”

He nodded his head. “And it is something we can only figure out by doing,” he said. “Your lessons around the lagoon are helpful -- and I can see the way the people remember who they are.”

“It is pretty great, isn’t it?” Moana enthused.

This time, her father smiled. “That is why I think it is time,” he said. “We will set sail tomorrow.”

Her eyes widened; her mouth fell open. For a moment, she spluttered. “What -- really?”

There was a glint in her father’s eye now. “I think so,” he said. “That is, of course, if you feel like you’re ready to lead the way.”

She laughed, throwing her arms around her dad’s head. “Ready? I’m more than ready! I can’t wait! We’re going to sail! All of us!”

Her father chuckled, patting her hair. “I do hope you show a little restraint in front of your people.”

She stepped back, bouncing on her toes. “A little,” she promised. “But not a lot!”


It took most of her self control not to whoop her whole way home. As it was, she still rain most of the way before nearly knocking over several elders. While it was probably a bad precedent to wipe out the eldership with her enthusiasm, she could hardly bring herself to slow down.

By the time she got back home, she couldn’t help but squeal.

“Pua!” she said, racing across the floor and scooping her sleepy pig into her arms. “I have the best news.”

He blinked sleepily. She hadn’t stopped to check if he were sleeping. He was sleeping a lot these days. It didn’t matter now anyway. Moana couldn’t stop now if she wanted to.

“We’re going!” she exclaimed, pressing her nose to his. “We’re going to set sail tomorrow!”

His eyes cleared, and he lifted his eyebrows.

“It’s true!” she said. “We’ve made a lot of progress on the boats, and I think the people are ready -- and I’m ready, Pua. I was born ready, I think, but now there’s nothing holding me back. Holding us back.”

He didn’t seem nearly as enthusiastic as she might have expected. “All those years of dreaming,” she told him. “We’re all going beyond the reef this time, all of us.”

She smiled, bringing him close again. “And there’s no one I want out there more than you.”

He warmed to that, wiggling gently as he lifted his nose to hers again. She obliged, holding him for a second before placing him back on the ground.

“It’s going to be amazing,” she told him with confidence. She sighed contently, looking out the window toward the water outside. “Absolutely amazing.”


For once, Pua was waiting for her when she got up. He looked a little funny, standing expectantly by the door like he was. He wasn’t excited necessarily, but it was about as eager as she’d seen him since she got back.

And with reason.

“We’re setting sail today, Pua,” she announced, spending a quick second to make herself look presentable. “Can you believe it?”

He almost shrugged, as best a pig could shrug.

She picked him up, twirling for a moment.

“This is going to be so awesome!”

He wiggled his way free until she put him down. He scampered toward the door, looking back at her again.

Before she could move to follow, her mother entered. She paused to smile at Pua, scratching him behind the ears before she straightened to look at Moana. “I know what your father told you.”

“Did he talk to you about it?” she asked.

“I’m the one that suggested it,” her mother said, a knowing look in her eyes.

Moana laughed. “That probably shouldn’t surprise me.”

“No, it shouldn’t,” her mother agreed. She hesitated, glancing at Pua again. “Just remember, Moana. Not everyone is going to feel the same way you do when you get on the water.”

“Oh, I know that,” Moana said. “I mean, I know how long it took me to figure out my destiny. I know not everyone is called to the ocean like I am. Some may not even want to. I’m not going to tell people the way they should feel.”

“And be aware of what they’re not telling you, too,” her mother coached gently. She watched as Pua slumped out the door to wait for her on the front step. “You are the chief’s daughter, after all. And now you’re the island’s hero. Some people may be afraid to tell you how they feel.”

“Mom,” she said, crossing toward her mother. “I know what I’m doing. I got this.”

Her mother sighed. Clearly, she wanted to say something else. But she drew a breath and laid her lips in a line. Finally, she pressed them into a smile. “I know,” she said. “I never could stop you anyway.”

She reached up, giving her mother a hug. “Thanks, Mom.”

Her mother held her close, breathing into her hair. “Thank you, Moana.”


The crowd was ready.

Her parents were ready.

Moana smiled, and felt her chest fill up with an unspeakable satisfaction.

She was more than ready.

“Today,” she announced in front of the waterfall. “We reclaim our past. We reclaim our future. Today, we set sail.”

It was impossible for her to say, which was more deafening.

The applause of her people, the roar of the water.

Or the sure and steady beat of her own heart.


The boats were ancient, but when they put them in the water of the lagoon, they were as vibrant as ever. They had to hook up ropes and pulleys to get some of the larger vessels out through the blanket of water, but working together, the village made short work of the task. There would be plenty of other preparations, of course.

But as long as they worked together, they’d pull it off -- no problem.

She surveyed her people proudly.


Then she stopped, pausing.

Stepping away from the commotion, she moved to the edge of the crowd, scanning it again. Then, concerned, she turned back toward the treeline, checking with her eyes in that direction as well.

She was about to start off, when her father’s hand fell on her shoulder.

“Moana,” he said. “They’re looking for you to check some of the rigging.”

“We have to stock up first,” she said. “And besides, the fishermen--”

“But you are the leader of the people right now,” her father reminded her.

“Yeah, but we’re not all here,” she said.


She shook her head. “I’ll just be a second, I promise.”

Her father dropped his hand, tilting his head. “Moana, this is your dream.”

“And I’m coming right back,” she said. “But there’s something I’ve got to do first.”


It was something that her father didn’t fight her more. Their relationship had changed now; she liked to think it was for the better-- that he trusted her -- but she suspected that some of it was the acceptance that he no longer had the ability to stop her.

They would have to talk about that -- another thing on her growing list of post-journey topics to cover -- but she had to keep her focus.

She was already through the village before she even slowed down, and she gave a cursory look inside the hut before continuing in the direction she’d suspected from the start. In the weeks since her return, she’d finally learned to see a thing or two that she’d been missing.

And that started with a little white pig.

In the cave, she found him sitting in the corner, ears flattened against his head. He didn’t seemed surprised when she arrived, which probably just made it worse.

How long had he been sitting there like that? Waiting for her?

It felt like yesterday that he’d been absconding with oars and dragging her down to the beach.

Yesterday -- and a lifetime ago.

She sighed, getting on her knees next to him. “Come on,” she said. “The boats are on the water.”

He looked hesitant.

She smiled, caressing his ears. “It’ll be just like old times,” she cajoled. “You and me.”

His ears started to lift, just slightly.

“The way it’s supposed to be,” she vowed, getting to her feet. He stood, following her.

Keeping her smile to herself, she led him out of the cave and across the village while he plodded along behind her.

Maui took pleasure in knowing humans never changed.

Moana understood what he meant.

It was nice that some pigs never changed either.


She had expected the sight of the boats on the water to pick up Pua’s spirits. However, he hung back, following her several paces back along the shoreline. When the waves rushed up to meet him, he danced back skittishly.

Okay, so a few things changed.

That was nothing the sea air wouldn’t change.

Which was why they needed to get these boats out of the shallows. “Make sure you keep it level,” she recommended, moving through the tide to guide the people moving one of the medium boats. “These things are great as long as you keep them balanced--”

Almost as if on cue, the boat rocked. People on the far side were caught by a wave, and the team on the beach end overcompensated. So close to the shoreline as the boat was, there was no space to avert the accident. The more people scattered, the less balance the boat had, and it was tipping over before Moana could figure out how to stop it.

She’d learned the hard way, there are some accidents you couldn’t avoid. Some you probably even shouldn’t.

“Watch out!” she called, watching as the mast started to crash toward the beach. The last of the team on the beach side had ducked out of range, and the people still on the beach scrambled. In a split second, Moana cringed. This could crack the mast -- easily.

Then, her heart skipped a beat.

A broken mast could be fixed.

A broken friend, however…

The people had scrambled clear.

But that left one little white pig standing right in the path of the oncoming mast.

“Pua!” she yelled, but that only succeeded in getting Pua to look at her and not at the impending danger. Running now, she leaped over a few people, glancing up at the mast as it descended.

And grabbing Pua and throwing them both clear.

She heard the mast crash onto the sand, but the sound was short lived as her evasive maneuvers plunged them beneath the surf. There was little danger in that, but it was disorienting, and she came up spluttering.

Pua came up squawking noisily. Wet as he was now, his body was impossible to hold onto. He scampered free, nearly tripping himself as he rushed off Moana for the safety of the sand.

Honestly, that much was a relief.

Pua was safe.

Her people were safe.

She was safe.

That should have been all that mattered.

Until she watched Pua keep running toward the trees, not looking back or stopping.

Relief wasn’t exactly the right word anymore.


She was swarmed when she got to her feet, anxious villagers wanting to make sure she was okay. A few of them even apologized, and the rest seemed to be fixated on the damage done to the boat and the rest of the mast.

Those were all issues, Moana knew.


She looked toward the trees.

It was easy to get distracted when it came to the things she loved.

But she didn’t want to sacrifice one dream for another.

“Go,” her mother said, softer than all the rest. She was leaned close to Moana, smiling gently. “You should go.”

Moana hesitated. “But the mast--”

“We’ve got this,” her mother said. “I think right now you’re needed elsewhere.”

She looked at her mom, conflicted. “But Dad says I’m their leader now--”

“And everyone on this beach is doing fine,” her mother said. “Anyone not on this beach…”

Moana’s shoulders fell as she looked back toward the trees. “He’s really not the same, is he?”

“He wasn’t the same after you left,” her mother explained gently. “You got to fulfill your dream. I think Pua lost his, and he didn’t even have his best friend here to help him figure it out.

The truth hit hard, constricting her chest. “You sure it’s okay?”

“Moana,” her mother said with a soft exasperation. “You don’t have to do this all by yourself. Some things, however, are things only meant for you.”

She felt her eyes fill as her stomach clenched.

“You’re not the leader I thought you were if you don’t go after that pig,” her mother said sternly. “And you’re certainly not the daughter I raised.”

“Okay, okay,” Moana relented, taking a few steps toward the trees. “Just don’t set sail without me!”

Her mother huffed a laugh. “Like you’re one to talk!”


All joking aside, Moana knew there was serious work to be done.

Contrary to her father’s frustrations, it was never that Moana disliked worked. It wasn’t even that she didn’t see the value in it. It was just that she’d always known, somehow, deep down inside, that the work she needed to do wasn’t always the work people wanted her to do. That conflict had driven her for most of her life.

It was a different kind of work for her now.

It had been tempting to think, coming back in triumph, that all of her problems would be solved.

That wasn’t the case, however. Now, it just meant she had to turn her focus away from the water -- just for a little bit.

For the sake of her people.

And her pig.

“Hey,” she said softly from the entrance of the cave now. Seeing Pua there, tucked into a shadow with his tail limp, she finally understood why this was his new spot.

Sure, you might think that a cave made a good place to hide -- and that could be part of it, it could -- but this particular cave was at the center of the island, under the mountain.

The farther point inland.

She should have known this from the first time she found him here. After all, he’d been the one to count of the steps of the island, measuring every pace from one shore to the other. She’d hated it here -- they both had -- because it was too far away to hear the sound of the waves on the ocean.

Sighing, she crossed over to him. When he didn’t move, she plopped down on the ground next to him and let her shoulders slump.

For a moment, they sat like that. Dejected and huddled together, far away from the dreams they’d both had. She had to remind herself that for her, this was a choice.

For him, it was all that he felt like he had left.

“I’m sorry,” she said finally.

He glanced up at her for a fleeting moment.

She shrugged. “I know it must have been hard when I disappeared like that,” she said. “We never even talked to each other after I crashed that canoe, and then the next day, just like that, I was gone.”

She looked at him, meeting his baleful gaze.

“You probably didn’t know what to think, what to do,” she said.

He leaned toward her slightly.

“I could never say I regret going -- and I had to leave fast like that before anyone had the chance to stop me,” she explained. “You have to understand. I was leaving everyone and everything behind. For our island. For our people.”

His expression creased warily.

Her smile turned a little sad. “It was something I had to do for myself,” she amended, because she couldn’t lie to him. He deserved better than that. “I had to do it by myself.”

Morosely, Pua glanced toward the entrance of the cave. It wasn’t much, but Moana had spent a lifetime interpreting her pig. She knew what he meant.

“Hei-Hei wasn’t supposed to be there,” she assured him. “Trust me, it would have been easier if he’d stayed behind, but once I was out there, I couldn’t turn back. The ocean had a plan for me.”

This time, Pua slumped again, nose pointed toward the floor dejectedly.

“Hey,” she said, resting her hand on the fluff between his ears. “It has a plan for you, too. Both of us. Together.”

He looked up at her, but his ears were still flattened against his head.

“The last time, when I left, I had to go find Maui and restore the heart of Te Fiti,” she said. “But this time -- this time is for us and that dream we always had.”

She smiled at him warmly.

“You believed in me, Pua, when no one else did,” she said fondly. “And that matters more than I have ever let you know.”

His brows knitted together uncertainly.

She inched closer, wrapping her arm around him. “Tell you what,” she said. “We’ll call off the launch for the village. In fact, we’ll take the day off tomorrow, just you and me.”

When he looked dubious, she shook her head in determination.

“There will be no distractions, I promise,” she said. “No matter how important they may seem, I know there is something more important.”

His ears lifted almost imperceptibly.

“Tomorrow,” she said, almost vowing it now. “Just you and me.”

There was a sense of hope behind his wide eyes, but the doubt still persisted.

“We’ll take my canoe, and we’ll sail together,” she enthused. “We’ll go beyond the reef to the open sea.”

The doubt turned to skepticism -- and a trace of fear.

She smiled apologetically now. “I’m much better at it now, I promise,” she said. “I mean, I understand if you don’t want to, and we’ll stay here, right in this cave if that’s what you want.”

He glanced toward the entrance again, almost longingly now.

She saw her opening and seized it. “It’s better than we ever dreamed,” she said. “The waves, the sun on the water, the way the horizon just goes on and on. Pua, it’s everything we ever dreamed.”

She could see it now, the conflict he had. It was easy to forget that while her own inner conflict had been resolved, not everyone else had come to terms with theirs.

Not even the people closest to her.

“Our adventure, if you’re up for it,” she said. “At any rate, this time, I can’t go alone.”

Finally, his face brightened as he climbed onto her lap. She accepted him lovingly, pulling him tighter as he lifted his nose up to lick her face.

“You know, I went a long way,” she said, laughing now. “But I’ve got even farther to go with you.”


It was unnecessary, but she carried him back to the beach. Normally, he might not let her, but he seemed to like it there, in her arms. She liked it, too -- the feel of his heartbeat against her skin. It beat in tandem with her own, just like it always had.

On the beach, good progress was being made on the mast. The rest of the fleet had been shored, while villagers continued to stock the reserves.

“Moana,” her father said, jogging toward her. “The people have made good efforts. It may be aggressive, but I think we can delay the launch several hours--”

She shook her head. “I don’t think that’s necessary.”

Her father appeared vexed. “You can oversee the work yourself, if you’re concerned--”

It was almost funny, the irony of the situation. Her father asking to go to see.

Moana offering steadfast, reliable guidance to keep both feet on the ground.

“Dad,” she said, letting herself be his daughter for a moment.

When he fell silent, she remembered the rest of the story. Glancing out at her people, crowded around her on the beach, she smiled. “We shouldn’t rush this,” she said. “In fact, we should postpone the launch for another whole day.”

There was a tittering among the people, and her father appeared concerned. Her mother, though, smiled.

Moana beamed back. “Our adventure is going to be exciting, and it is sure to change us all, whether we stay on the beach or take to the sea,” she announced. “And that is why we need to take time for ourselves, to appreciate what we have on this island, each of us. We have to know, beyond all doubt, where we have been in order to get to where we need to go.”

She looked down at Pua, who radiated delight back to her now.

“The ocean isn’t going anywhere,” she said. “And no matter how far we go, we can’t forget our island.”

She drew Pua closer, and turned toward her people.

“Or any of the things,” she continued with finality, “that truly matter.”

The people murmured in agreement. Her father’s chest puffed out. Her mother gave her a knowing nod.

She’d done what was needed.

Her eyes met Pua’s again. He wiggled in her arms eagerly.

For all of them, this time.


They left the boats on the beach, all of them. Some of the children played in the water while a few of the more earnest fishermen tended to the boats anxiously. Moana knew how they felt, to some degree.

But she also understood the others, the ones who retreated back to the village. She appreciated those who wanted to walk among the coconut groves, and she smiled when she saw some of the people return to their weavings. They were not a singular people, not a one of them. They all wanted different things, sometimes disparate things, at the same time.

That wasn’t a contradiction to be resolved.

It was a diversity to be celebrated.

“So,” she said, nuzzling the top of Pua’s head as he nestled deeper into her arms. “What do you want to do?”

He glanced up at her, eyes bright.

“You name it,” she said. “We’ll do it.”

It was only then, when she saw the mischievous glint in his eyes, that she realized how long it’d been since she’d seen him like this.


He wiggled, and Moana took the hint. She put him down, gesturing widely. “You lead,” she declared much to Pua’s delight. “And I’ll be right there, following you.”

That was the only invitation Pua needed.


It was just like old times.

They picked up stray fruit along the fields, and they made boats out of palm fronds they sneaked away from the weavers. They played by the lagoon, setting their boats out and watching as they drifted away toward the horizon, past the edge of nowhere.

And they danced in the waves, building castles in the sand. They climbed the lower bluffs and trailed through the blackened paths of volcanic rock. The ran through the mist at the waterfall and sat around the fire, eating fresh fish while it was still crackling and hot from the flames.

They laughed and played, and when the night finally fell, she sat out at their favorite point on the beach, watching as the moon glimmered across the top of the waves.

“Tomorrow,” she promised, trailing her fingers down the soft fuzz on the nape of his neck. “We’ll discover our future.”

He grunted contently, snuggling closer.

Moana smiled, watching as he fell asleep.

Part of her knew she should probably take the two of them home, but somehow she knew her parents wouldn’t mind.

She was already home, after all.

Pressing a kiss on Pua’s head, she grinned wider.

She was home in all the ways that mattered.


That night, she dreamed of the sea, just like she always did.

This time, Maui was there, hook in hand and Heihei clucked from the deck. Her father waved, putting his hand around her mother, who smiled at Moana knowingly.

When Moana turned back to face the open ocean, she realized she wasn’t standing on the edge of nowhere by herself this time.

There was Pua, prancing at the bow of the boat.

She beamed at him. “We’ve got this, Pua,” she promised as she took up the rigging. “We’ve got this.”


Sleep was so satisfying that night, the she woke up thinking the world was, for once, perfect.

That was before she realized she was alone.

Concerned, she sat up, brushing the sand out of her hair. She could feel it, caked against her cheek, but she was more concerned with the pig-shaped indentation that was by her side -- entirely vacant.

True, this wasn’t uncommon since she got back, but she had sort of thought that they were past this. She had apologized to Pua; she’d made things right with him.

So where was he?

She glanced toward the treeline, wondering if he’d retreated to the cave again?

There were no indications of movement in the sand, however. At least, not in that direction.

Curious now, she followed the trail of hoofed footprints with her eyes away from their makeshift camp and down the beach.

“Pua,” she whispered, getting to her feet. “You better not have gone inland, you silly pig.”

She had to hope.

Swallowing hard, she set off after him with determination.

She had to hope.


Following his trail was easy. Pua was a pig, after all. He wasn’t exactly known for his stealth. The trail led along the beach, toward the moored canoes and boats. In this early morning, the beach was mostly vacant, but she followed Pua, step by step, until she rounded the corner to one last canoe.

Her canoe.

The spiral on the mast, still blooming with the flowers from Te Fiti.

It was poised on the beach, ready to push out into the lagoon and out beyond the reef.

And there, standing in front of it with the oar in his mouth, is Pua.

Her smile went so wide it almost hurt.

“Okay, Pua,” she said, reaching down to take the oar. He scampered in front of her, eagerly boarding the craft as she ready behind him. “You ready to do this?”

He squealed in excitement, taking up his position at the front of the boat, eager and ready.

With a mighty heave, she pushed the canoe off the sand and into the water. She climbed on behind it, adjusting the sail so that it caught the wind as they worked their way out into the lagoon.

Pua danced happily before settling down, nose tipped up into the air contentedly.

Moana grinned, angling the boat over the reef and toward the open ocean in front of them.

A rush of excitement filled her, but it was nothing compared to the satisfaction of watching Pua settle onto the deck, like he was meant to be there.

He was, of course. He was meant to be there just as much as Moana was.

Mostly, though, they were meant to be here together.

They were meant to go together.

He glanced back, overjoyed.

And Moana took them out to sea, wherever destiny would call them.